by Molly Gaudry

Her name was An—like swan, not man. For weeks she had escaped the fisherman's lure. Until. One November morning. A net. Captured, she let its ropefingers caress her, unused to being touched. The fisherman hauled her onto the rock beside him and gasped. An hung her head, tried to unsee her lips between her legs, tried to hide them with her thighs knees calves but the wet sand clung and shellshards slit her swaying saltstung lips. Her father had ordered them stretched, her lips, as punishment for letting her husband escape. A good man, a rich man. Someone her father could appreciate, respect. An should have honored him, should have cherishloved him. Then the screaming. As millimeter turned to centimeter turned to quarter-inch, half-inch, three-quarters-inch, inch, inch-and-a-quarter, inch-and-a-half, inch-and-three-quarters turned to inches turned to one foot then two feet and then three in the span of who knew? who cared? what was time anyway when you looked like this? and as soon as An could move again, she dragged herself, picked herself up and carried her bottom half and tried not to drop herself, crawled, trying to convince herself to get up again and run, but she couldn't run because when she tried she tripped and when she had tripped over herself so many times she couldn't pick herself up again she crawled dragged rolled the final few yards and then in she went and she was swimming, swimming, and she didn't couldn't wouldn't have to feel anything of herself anymore but for the soothingcool water all around. Until. One November morning. A net. And everything changed

The fisherman remembered to breathe and reached for his knife as he exhaled and reached to cut away his net as he inhaled and when An reached for his knife he exhaled and by the time she had sliced the fuckers off once and for all he was back to breathing again as normally as any normal human being could breathe after catching a woman with three-foot lips and watching her remove them with his serrated fishgutting blade.

She went home with him. Of course she did. And she walked.

A graduate of the University of Cincinnati's M.A. fiction program, my writing appears or is forthcoming in Quick Fiction, Kartika Review, and Lamination Colony, among some two dozen others. Additionally, I am an associate editor at Keyhole Magazine, co-editor of Twelve Stories, and editor of Willows Wept Review and Willows Wept Press.